On 30 and 31 January, the partners of MUCH MORE project met in Gävle to learn how the social services and non-governmental organizations in Sweden help men with past addiction problems find the way in life, and discuss how this experience can be used during the workshops with men and training for professionals to be organized within the project frame later this year.
The representatives of the MUCH MORE partner organizations – municipality and NGOs – had a chance to learn about the approach and treatment methods used by the social services in work with the target group and the non-institutional care. The meeting at Gävle’s Social Services – Outpatient Unit, Treatment Coordinator Roger Larsson presented the model of support for those, who look for “good and meaningful life”. The support is based on the conversation and mapping of difficulties as well as one’s strengths and developing the strategies to reach one’s goals. “The approach is motivational”, said Larsson. There are also programmes for relatives, support groups and knowledge and introduction groups for those who want more information on how does the alcohol or drug dependence affect them and their environment.
During the days, also the premises of the Swedish partner of MUCH MORE, Stickan – Centre for Men in Crisis were visited. Stickan offers support for men, who need help because of family problems, home violence, addiction, loneliness etc. The work with clients is done through individual and group therapy in a cozy environment of Stickan’s office in the centre of Gävle. “This organization is run by men for men. This helps us reach our clients”, explained Johan Plikas, Stickan’s therapist and local coordinator of MUCH MORE.
The final stop was done at the Social Services' supported housing Stallgatan – a house that provides accommodation for those, who do not have a chance for another apartment anymore because of various troubles. The private and affordable accommodation gives people another chance to live a dignified life. “We started in 2006. Before that you could see the homeless people on the streets of Gävle. Now it does not happen. They have home.”, admitted Solgerd Hedberg, accountable manager at Stallgatan.
The study visit was enriched by the lecture of Anders Hammarberg, medical doctor at the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm and a behavioral scientist and certified psychotherapist. Hammarberg has worked with treatment, research and education concerning addiction problems for almost 20 years. He has been involved in specialized addiction care, occupational health care, social services, criminal health-section and as a psychotherapist. The lecture was on controlled drinking, which has been a goal for many patients Anders has met during his career path. As the traditional therapies require from the clients the total abstinence, the controlled drinking concept presents a new perspective to the treatment. It requires self-control and self-organization and while it is no for everyone, it can help reach more people in need for help.
“The visit showed us that the problem of alcohol abuse has become an all-encompassing problem that affects one’s home life, finances, ability to work and one’s health. Alcohol abuse cannot be ignored as a problem that will go away on its own; many people need professional help. We got encouragement that our planned project activities based on motivational approach will serve the needs of the target group”, said Aija Vecenane, a local coordinator of MUCH MORE in Riga.
Seppo Nikula from the Blue Ribbon Association of the Southwest Finland commented: "It was great to get the whole picture of Swedish way of operating in this area. Also the lecture of Anders Hammarberg opened out eyes on how to motivate and set goals with our target group during the project".